PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – When Scott Martin came across a series of offshore rock piles in practice, he stopped to investigate. These isolated sweet spots, located on a Missisquoi Bay flat, were loaded with largemouth bass hiding in a mix of healthy grass, and Martin thought they could potentially go the distance. Clark Wendlandt, however, had no intentions of winning the tournament. His sights were set on becoming the first to win three Angler of the Year titles.
Both pros had their game plans come to fruition on day four of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain. For Martin it was special because he was fishing with a heavy heart this week as his maternal grandmother passed away the day before the tournament began. He said he dedicated his third FLW Tour title to her and could feel her presence with him on the water. After weighing in four bass, Martin needed one more keeper to knock off Anthony Gagliardi.
He looked into his bag, reached down for his fifth fish and said, “She wasn’t just a top-10 grandma, she was a championship grandma.”
The Clewiston, Fla., native later elaborated on the win.
“I have such a peace about this,” said Martin, the son of legendary angler Roland Martin. “If I could keep this confidence and peace the rest of my life, I think I could win every tournament. What I envisioned this week was flying to Oklahoma (site of funeral arrangements) with a trophy in hand. Hopefully that will provide some joy in a sorrow time.”
Of Martin’s three victories, two have came on Champlain, the other on the Pascagoula River. In 2004, the National Guard pro sight-fished exclusively for spawning smallmouths. Since that tournament, no angler has won a tour-level event on Champlain with entirely smallmouths. He located some bedding brown bass this week, but he caught and weighed only one of them. Instead, smallies were a backup for his brilliant largemouth strategy.
Sitting in 5 to 8 feet of water, Martin’s postspawn fish were gravitating to a healthy mix of milfoil and eelgrass. Martin said the grass was critical because Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks region have experienced a cool and wet spring. The grass Martin found was about the best the northern portion of the lake had to offer.
His three main baits were a Texas-rigged Berkley Chigger Craw (green-pumpkin), a Lucky Craft Fat CB B.D.S. 3 crankbait (Tennessee shad) and a Strike King Series 5 crankbait. On the crankbaits, he tied 12-pound Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line and he used the same line, but in 17-pound-test, on the creature bait, which was pegged with a 3/8-ounce Tru Tungsten weight.
During the two-day opening round, Martin said half the fish came on the Chigger Craw and half on the crankbaits. On day three, the percentage moved to 75-25 in favor of the crankbait, and on the final he estimated it was 90-10.
“It seemed like the bigger fish wanted the moving baits as the tournament progressed. I used the crankbait as a search tool as a way to find them and get them going, and then I thoroughly combedthrough the area with the Chigger Craw.”
Martin finished the final round with a total weight of 36 pounds, 4 ounces – superseding his 2004 winning weight of 32-8. The latest $125,000 check put his career earnings with FLW Outdoors past the $1 million mark.
“They’re all special,” Martin said of his victories. “This puts me in a class with only a few other guys.”